Do all practices reinforce the ego and duality?

Many claim that to advise any kind of practice is to reinforce the ego and duality, and is therefore a dualistic expression. Now there is much truth in this. However to use the same logic against itself, isn’t this in itself a duality, distinguishing between dualistic and nondualistic expressions?

Ask yourself, what is more important to you: concepts of duality/nonduality or the cessation of suffering?

Ultimately the ‘truth’, so to speak, is not to be found in concepts of any kind, and is not really truth at all but simply the end of suffering.

Many expressions can help towards this end, both so-called dualistic and nondualistic expressions. To think otherwise is to artificially restrict yourself and close yourself to the endless variety of ways life teaches and guides us home – the home we never really left – you could even say the home we always already ARE.

While there is nothing wrong with discussing teachings (it can appear to be very helpful depending on where the seeker is – although a duality is also implied in the very discussion) – to argue endlessly about conceptual teachings often implies an egotism that is attached to certain expressions (ie. teachings), and this too can be an unhealthy source of egotism and suffering.

So if you find yourself tangled up in teachings and seeking, a suggestion is to simply relax and be as you are, free from worry, free to worry.

🙏❤

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Ramana Maharshi: Self-abidance, the ‘vision of God’ and the end of suffering

 ramana umbrella

If you remain still, without paying attention to this, without paying attention to that, and without paying attention to anything at all, you will, simply through your powerful attention to being, become the reality, the vast eye, the unbounded space of consciousness.

Ramana Maharshi
Guru Vachaka Kovai
Verse 647

Tom’s comments:

Guru Vachaka Kovai is argueably the most authoritative text on Ramana Maharshi’s verbal teachings. The instruction here is simply to be still. Not to be attentive to anything at all – just to be.

Ramana then uses the wording ‘through your powerful attention to being’. Given the first part of the verse which says not to be attentive to anything, this implies that not being attentive to any particular thing and remaining still and aware is synonymous with ‘attention to being’. This means that being is not something to be attentive of, ie. being is not an object of attention, but ‘attention to being’ is simply the state of being aware but not have your awareness focused on any particular thing.

What is the reward? The reward is that we ‘become the reality’. As Ramana has stated many times, there is actually no ‘becoming’ the reality. Reality is always already here, pure and whole, but realising this could be called ‘becoming the reality’:

There is no reaching the Self. If the Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not now and here, but that it should be got anew. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So, I say, the Self is not reached. You are the Self; you are already That.

Ramana Maharshi, Talk with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 251

Here are 2 other verses, also from Guru Vachaka Kovai that say essentially the same thing but using different language:

348. Having become free from concepts, which are afflicting thoughts, and with the ‘I am the body’ idea completely extinguished, one ends up as the mere eye of grace, the non-dual expanse of consciousness. This is the supremely fulfilling vision of God

349. Having restrained the deceitful senses, and having abandoned mental concepts, you should stand aloof in your real nature. In that state of Self-Abidance in which you remain firmly established in the consciousness of the Heart, Sivam will reveal itself.

In verse 348 we can see how here the emphasis is on freedom from concepts and thoughts. When the ‘I am the body’ idea has been completely extinguished, then ignorance, the cause of suffering, has been rooted out, and all that remains is Reality, which in this verse Ramana calls ‘the non-dual expanse of consciousness’ or ‘God’.

It is worth noting that this is not simply an insight teaching, but also a purification teaching in which, over time, through the repeated practice of ‘self-abidance’, the ignorance ‘I am the body’ is uprooted. Only when this is done is the vision of God fully realised.

Again, in verse 349, a similar concept is explored in a slightly different way. The senses here are termed ‘deceitful’ meaning that they promise pleasure and fulfillment when really pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment through the senses actually leads only to the perpetuation of the cycle of suffering. Therefore we turn away from objects as sources of fulfillment and also we ‘abandon mental concepts’. Once we have done this, we are already standing ‘aloof in our real nature’. Standing in our real nature is not something we have to do, but it naturally arises once we stop attending to objects and thoughts (which are subtle objects).

The latter part of verse 349 says we should ‘remain firmly established’ in this stillness. Here, this state is also called ‘the Heart’. The ‘remain firmly’ implies the importance of practice, ie. remaining in this state for sometime. Only then will it have it effect of God-realisation or ‘Sivam revealing itself’, which is when the ignorance of the false ‘I’ has been rooted out through repeated practice.

Again, it is worth noting that unlike insight teachings which simply point out the presence of awareness/consciousness, this teaching goes further and asks us to ‘remain in that awareness’ in order for ignorance to be uprooted. In this context, remain in awareness is just a phrase to mean that we don’t seek outwardly through objects such as sense objects (gross objects) or thoughts and concepts (ie. subtle objects).

This is the path to ending suffering, as the next verse, also taken from Guru Vachaka Kovai, states. The word mauna refers to the state of silence or stillness beyond words and the word jiva refers to the apparent individual:

350. The true vision of reality that is free from veiling ignorance is the state in which one shines in the Heart as the ocean of bliss, the inundation of grace. In the mauna experience that surges there as wholly Self, and which is impossible to think about, not a trace of grief or discontent exists for the jiva.

OM NAMO

BHAGAVATE

SRI RAMANAYA

OM

Integrating knowledge, spontaneous action

This post is continued from Discarding Knowledge as Ignorance

Do you go around repeatedly saying your name so that you remember it? Do you have to walk around saying “I am Tom, I am Tom, I am Tom?” (obviously substitute in your name).

Or do you spend most of your life not even thinking about your name, but when someone calls out your name, the understanding ‘My name is Tom’ automatically acts: you turn your head and respond?

It’s the same with understanding there is no doer: initially you may need to think about it, go through the reasoning, and realise there is no evidence for a doer. It is a conscious process. Because we have been conditioned to think of ourselves as being a doer, there is often a process of deconditioning.

It may also take time for all the suffering based on the ‘I am the doer’ notion to fall away. Other notions such as ‘I am to blame’ or ‘I could/should have done it differently’ or ‘I am not worthy’ may still all be at play. All these depend on the root belief ‘I am a separate doer-entity’. Again, there may be a conscious process of applying this understanding in order to deal with suffering as it arises and uprooting the associated beliefs upon which suffering depends.

But once this has been done, then we don’t need to think about it. The knowledge of ‘there is no doer’ has been ingrained into us. We do not need to think about it, we no longer need to repeat the process of understanding.

But just as when someone asks your name, you can spontaneously respond ‘My name is ____’, when someone asks you ‘Are you a doer?’, you can instantly reply ‘there is no doer’.

This post is continued here: Am I the body? Am I not the body?

Do you know for certain that you are the body?

Sculpture Male Body Naked Gestures Man Human
Do you know for certain that you are the body?
Do you know for certain that you are not the body?
The honest answer to both these questions is ‘no’.
‘I am not the body’ is a tool by which one can weed out the ‘I am the body’ notion.
Then once the work is done, like the thorn used to remove a thorn, throw them both away.
What is reality then?
Reality is simply whatever is left over when concepts of self and no-self are no longer believed in.
Reality is the ineffable indescribable indefinable ever-obvious ever-present ‘now’.
Tom Das

These verses will be elucidated further in upcoming posts:

  1. Are you or are you not the body?
  2. Why does understanding the body matter?
  3. Why seeing/understanding alone may not be enough
  4. Integrating the understanding of no-doer
  5. Problems with utilising conceptual tools
  6. Practising Knowledge
  7. Discarding knowledge as ignorance
  8. Integrating knowledge/spontaneous action
  9. Am I the body?

Nisargadatta Maharaj: If my real self is peace and love, why is it so restless?

I Am That

Questioner: If my real self is peace and love, why is it so restless?

Nisargadatta Mahara: It is not your real being that is restless, but its reflection in the mind appears restless because the mind is restless. It is just like the reflection of the moon in the water stirred by the wind. The wind of desire stirs the mind and the ‘me’, which is but a reflection of the Self in the mind, appears changeful. But these ideas of movement, of restlessness, of pleasure and pain are all in the mind. The Self stands beyond the mind, aware, but unconcerned.
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